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Why Your Next TV May Be in 3-D

Call us crazy, but we think increasing hype around 3-D movies and TV is ill-deserved -- didn't this goofy technology that requires users to put on special glasses die out in the 1950s? Sure, today's version is much improved -- and in HD, no less -- but it still reeks of gimmickry since you still have to put on those glasses to get the full effect.

Well, whether you like it or not, 3-D HDTV is just about the biggest new thing that television manufacturers will try to sell you next year, if the multiple models and prototypes on display at this year's CEATEC show are any indication. The annual Japanese consumer electronics show, which Switched is attending again this year, is a showcase for pie-in-the-sky, science-fair-type technologies, but it's also a decent predictor of what will end up at the January Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and, eventually, at Best Buy.

As we mentioned, we've been seeing a whole lotta 3-D HD at CEATEC this year. Samsung already has a 3-D DLP TV out on the market, but the new crop from Panasonic, Sony, and its ilk is due out next year and comes in flat-panel LCD or plasma form. Here's what we've found so far:

Panasonic Full HD 3D
Panasonic's Full HD 3D is by far the best-looking (i.e. clearest, warmest and most realistic) 3-D TV for the home we've seen to date, due, presumably, to special sensors that enable shutterized glasses to open and close the left and right lenses at a high speed of 60 frames-per-second, which gives the illusion of 3-D -- even with high-speed action and sports sequences. Panasonic's 3-D HD cameras are being used to shoot the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, so it's no surprise that it's going to ship its first model -- a 50-inch plasma that made its public debut here at the show -- early next year.

Sony 3-D TV
Also due out in 2010 (though not as early as Panasonic's), Sony's 3-D TV uses a similar high-speed shutter on its accompanying glasses to give smooth and clear full 1080p HD resolution in 3-D on its LCD TVs. The demonstration we saw offered a wide-variety of convincingly realistic and clear 3-D video in the form of action movies, sports, and video games. We found it be be on a par, visually-speaking, with Panasonic's plasma 3-Ds.

Toshiba Regza Cell 3-D TV
Since it uses the powerful Cell processor (also used in the PlayStation 3), the Toshiba Regza Cell TV provided 3-D HD images not only for its nifty, gesture-controlled interfaces (imagine, movable 3-D thumbnails!), but was also able to 'upconvert' any 2-D scene into 3-D. Impressive, but you're still stuck wearing 3-D glasses. This one's coming out in Japan in December.

We also saw some 3-D offerings from Hitachi, Sharp, and Mitsubishi, but those examples seemed to be less fleshed out and more in the prototype phase (at least if the quality of the images was any indication), so we're going not getting into these yet.

That's what we've seen so far, but, as we mentioned above, we're expecting an even bigger load of 3-D HDTVs to hit the streets over the next few months, and even more early next year (especially at CES in January). If you're a kid at heart, you may go for this technology, gimmicky as it may seem. For us, 3-D TV just acts and sounds like a very hyped add-on.

For more stories from CEATEC, check out Engadget's live coverage.

Tags: 3-D, 3-DTV, 3dtv, biginjapan, ceatec, ceatec2009, events, features, japan, top



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